There are certainly rivalries among area high schools, including Bishop McNamara Catholic, Bradley-Bourbonnais and Manteno.
But there is also unity among the respective student bodies of these schools, and it was on impressive display last Thursday at a couple of Kankakee parks.
Some 21 students gathered at Cobb Park and then Beckman Park to perform community service. They started by clearing weeds and other debris at the berm and flower beds at Cobb, and then they planted new flowers there.
After that job was complete, they moved east to Beckman Park and cleared driftwood that still remained from the serious flooding the area encountered earlier this summer.
The group is known as the Interscholastic Community Service Organization, and one of its primary organizers is Blake Bradley, a 16-year-old student at BBCHS. He was one of the youth volunteers on hand for this project, and his leadership drew the admiration of Bill Spriggs, the volunteer coordinator for the Kankakee Valley Park District and someone who also helped organize it.
"He's 16 going on 25,'' Spriggs said of Bradley.
Spriggs' praise didn't stop there. The entire group left a lasting impression by working at least six hours to finish the project.
"They did a great job,'' Spriggs said. "I didn't think they would have time [to complete the work at Beckman] but they made time.''
By the time he returned home, Spriggs had to share his feelings with someone else.
"I told my wife I was refreshed and enthused. I had a whole new attitude on life.''
How can you not feel the same way as Spriggs? Amid concerns that youth have become more self-absorbed and are more interested in playing video games than venturing outdoors and doing something productive, comes this story.
Kudos to these kids and keep them in mind before you condemn all of youth in a blanket fashion. They are not small in number, but you tend to hear less about them than the troublemakers. Consider this piece a small gesture toward correcting that situation.